Interview: Tinker Bell (Part 2)

Posted on October 29, 2009 at 8:00 am

Part 2 — from an online press briefing with “Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure” director Klay Hall and producer Sean Lurie.” And don’t forget to enter the contest for the Tinker Bell DVD and wings!
Q: Can you talk a little bit about the look of this film and what inspired it?
Klay Hall: Certainly the inspiration comes from the original 1953 Peter Pan movie. The colors and the richness of the backgrounds from the original film were embraced. What was great about this time is we were able to give it a fresh look and able to incorporate CG. We were able to enhance the textures and the hues to really give it the richness we felt it deserved.
Q: What is the benefit of Blu-ray for a film such as this?
Sean Lurie: We produced the film in High Definition. Watching it on Blu-ray is, by far, the best way to see this. It’s visually stunning and we don’t want you to miss the incredible visual details.
Q: Mr. Hall, do you coordinate the performances of the voice talents with the visual artists? Or does one come first and the other have to try to match up? Do the voice talents have a good idea of what the look of the scene will be?
Klay Hall: Yes, I do coordinate all the voice talents with the visual artists; however, we do record the voices first, so the animators have an acting track to work from. If I don’t have an actor recorded at the time I am handing out a scene, we do what is called a “scratch track,” where myself or an animator will speak the words and we will record them, so we have something to work from. When I go into final record with acting talent, I bring character design, color art and sometimes a pencil test scene that will help inform the actor of what I’ll be looking for.
Q: Which is the secret to Tinker Bell’s success?
Sean Lurie: I think it’s her charm, curiosity, and that she is not perfect. These things make her relatable. And she can FLY!
Q: Can you tell me about the production of the score? How did you work with Joel McNeely? Can you tell me about the chorus and the choice of Gaelic for the lyrics, as a kind a secret fairy language?
Klay Hall: I worked very closely with Joel McNeely from early on. We talked about how we wanted to capture authenticity of the Celtic world and have it sound organic. Joel is a very accomplished musician on several instruments and he had creative ideas on how to create this new sound. As part of our production process, we were able to travel to Ireland and meet with David Downes, several musicians and singers, including some of the Celtic Women. When we first heard the Celtic choir, it was in the Abbey’s residence, a 400 year old building next to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. Talk about inspiring and moving. It was truly amazing, an incredible experience and we felt like we were really on to something.
Q: How long did the production for the movie overall take?
Sean Lurie: It took about two and a half years.
Q: Is it all computer generated?.
Sean Lurie: Yes. We start with “flat” designs and storyboards drawn with a stylist in the computer (they resemble pencil drawings). We then construct those characters, environments and props as models in a 3d digital environment. Even though the shots are computer generated there are many talented animators animating each shot and character.
Q: What are the differences you can see comparing the new Tinker Bell and the older one, being a co-star of Peter Pan?
Sean Lurie: The biggest difference has to be that she can talk in these movies. Even though she couldn’t talk in the Peter Pan movie she was very expressive. You always new what she was trying to communicate. We tried to keep her very expressive, and maintain her key personality traits. Translating her from 2D drawings to a fully 3 dimensional character is also a visual difference. We tried to be as accurate in her appearance as possible. It was important that people recognize and accept her as the Tink they know and love.
Q: Can you describe Tinker Bell’s new costume and how you arrived at its design?
Klay Hall: Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure is set in the Autumn. So it seemed proper to update Tinker Bell’s outfit. In the earlier films, she wears her iconic little green dress. However, it being fall and there being crispness in the air, in addition to this being an adventure movie, her dress just wouldn’t work. So myself, John Lasseter, Ellen Jin, the Art Director, and the costume designers from the parks all weighed in on an approach to a new design. We landed on her wearing leggings, a long-sleeve shirt, a shawl, a hat and high boots with her iconic pom-poms still attached. The costume also had to feel as if a fairy made it, so all the materials, textures and elements are organic and easily found in nature.
Q: What was it like working with John Lasseter?
It was awesome! Working with John was a dream come true. He is so invested in this TInker Bell films and very hands on. John is very much a collaborator and helpful at every level. He was involved practically at all levels….From the original story pitch, costume design and character design to sequence approvals, animation, music and the final sounds effects mix.
Q: To Mr. Hall: Please, would you share some memories of Ward Kimball and Milt Kahl as persons and the way they inspired you in your work?
Klay Hall: It was an honor to meet Ward Kimball, which I had the pleasure on several occasions. I spoke with him while a student at Cal Arts and then was able to correspond with him in the later years about animation and technique. He was a warm, friendly guy who had me out to his house and even invited me to his last steam-up at Grizzly Flats Railroad. Unfortunately, I never met Milt personally, but was also able to correspond with him through the mail. He was very friendly and encouraging in his advice about acting for animation and being sure to do your research before you begin to draw. I still look back and read the letters from these guys, watch the scenes they worked on and I’m truly inspired to this day.
Q: Do you anticipate any of the other Peter Pan characters making appearances in Tinkerbell films?
Klay Hall: You never know! It would be great.
Q: What are the advantages of treating the fairies’ world in CG? And what are the difficulties that implies, too?
Sean Lurie: We felt that CG was a great medium for these films because it allows us to create a truly magical world. The richness, color and depth is fantastic. We also felt that CG would help create an environment that we could easly return to in subsequent films. Our biggest challenge with CG was to create a faithful rendition of Tinker Bell. We spent a lot of time on this because we know that this is a beloved character.
Q: I love the stylized look of the opening sequence. What inspired it?
Klay Hall: I happen to love Autumn. The way the light hits the trees, the colors of fall and the crispness in the air. I wanted to capture the textures and feel of the season.
Q: What is the most important lesson children can learn from Tinkerbell?
Klay Hall: We all can learn so much from Tinker Bell and her adventures. TInk herself learns a valuable lesson in the film -friendship is one of the greatest treasures of all; she learns that it’s okay to make mistakes and to forgive.
Q: What is your favorite scene from the Tinker Bell movie?
Sean Lurie: I love the scene where Terence is helping Tink build the scepter, and over a period of time gets on her nerves. It’s a very relatable scene with lot’s of humor. The acting in this scene is very good and funny. We are also both very fond of the Trolls scene. It’s a great thing when you can take very unappealing (looking) characters and make them some of the most charming characters in the film.
Q: Both of you have two sons like me. With the emphasis on the Terence character, is part of the priority for you to make Tinker Bell more interesting to boys?
Sean Lurie: Our objective was to create a film that had a broad family appeal. We wanted to create a movie that the whole family would enjoy, including our sons.

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